It had been a little over a week. Only five or so days of involuntary sobriety and contrived gravitas left. When we realized our predicament on the fourth or fifth day in, we were irrepressibly chatty.
Now, however, there was silence. We seldom spoke or had need of speaking. The food we’d been afforded was sparse and so plain as to almost be entirely unpalatable. Sardines, unleavened bread, wild rice, and water.The salty little fish though initially delicious quickly lost their charm. There was nothing we could do about it either. Even if we had been equipped enough to hunt, game here was so rare and flighty that it wouldn’t have mattered if we were.
True, we could trek the thirty miles back to Engmann’s house but that meant throwing away our jobs. None of us wanted to go back to living on base waiting for Uncle Sam’s next whacky adventure.
So it was that we continued our trek towards that little blip on our GPS. Forty miles from Engmann’s house, there was supposedly a tub just sitting out there. We could have already gotten there long ago. But we were required to stop and camp every afternoon, to read old dry philosophy, to copy passages by hand, and to record our thoughts and the time that they’d occurred to us.
We all started seeing and hearing things fairly quickly. That’s probably one of the big reasons for our speechlessness. We were rapt up in weird melodies, voices, and films. I knew why but it didn’t help to dispel the strength of the thing.
Going from heavy psychedelic indulgence to absolute monastic ascetics was a sure fire way to open doors best left firmly shut. Not that they’re necessarily all wicked or bad, but the strength of the things, whether fair or foul put us dangerously close to cracking.
I could swear that the little kit fox I’d glimpsed all those nights ago was following us. Most of the time I could feel it rather than see it. When I’d wheel around I’d see something matching its description but then it disappeared leaving me wondering if it was a trick of the light.
Each encounter was always paired with the thought ‘one breath, one pulse.’ There was nothing associated with it beside the memory of that critter, the words, and the profound blue of the desert sky.
We were within ten miles of objective. Not far to go at all. None of us showed excitement however. It was true that we were arriving ahead of schedule but we’d rather complete the rest of the ‘exercises’ without the monotony of walking. It had been a silent agreement. But we were far beyond excitement or anything save our own luminous thoughts; that glowed as bright as that fearsome, mighty sun, seated regal on its azure throne.
As noon approached I saw it. At first a distant speck on the horizon, with each step of my feet, or something that rather felt more akin to floating, it grew more distinct till I perceived the outline of a bronze coloured antique tub. Next to it was what looked like some sort of sign which I couldn’t read until we were right on the thing.
The thing was riddled with holes. Sitting there in the midst of absolute nothing was this antique rusted tub with its little Victorian feet.
The wind whistled strangely through the perforations.
The sign that had till now remained illegible was a rustic wooden affair, with a thin velvet scrawl that read: ‘Holy, holy, holy.’
None of us laughed.
1.1 (Intro) The Sketch of Sam Monroe
1.2 The Cajun Prayer
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